School lunch prices to go up

May 21, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

The Washington County Board of Education voted Tuesday to increase the prices of school lunches by 10 cents for the next school year, citing a loss in cafeteria revenue this year due to snow days.

The cost of lunch in elementary schools will increase to $1.50 and the cost of middle and high school lunches will increase to $1.75. The lunch price for adults will be raised from $2.90 to $3.00.

Gary Dodds, supervisor of food and nutrition services, said although the program this year was successful in terms of meal participation, the food and nutrition services budget lost about $162,878 due to weather-related school closings and delays.


Dodds said that figure includes $112,878 lost because there were six fewer days of school than expected and $50,000 in breakfast revenue lost because of two-hour delays.

William Blum, the school system's chief operating officer, said raising the cost of the meals by 10 cents will help generate $90,000, which will be used to help pay for rising health care insurance costs and labor.

Blum said there are plans to raise the lunch fee by another 10 cents next year.

Dodds said lunches priced at $1.50 and $1.75 are in line with the average cost of lunches in school systems across the state. He said six of the state's 24 school systems plan lunch fee increases next year.

"We don't feel we can increase beyond 10 cents because of the income sensitivity of our community," Blum said.

He said that by raising the adult meal prices the program will gain less than $15,000.

School Board President Bernadette M. Wagner asked why adult meals couldn't be raised by a quarter.

Dodds said adult meal prices are raised by 10 cents every other year.

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said after the meeting that free and reduced -price meals will be affected by the increase, but said she wasn't yet sure how.

Free and reduced-price meals are provided for students based on their parents' income.

School Board Member Russell Williams said the increase would cost the average family $18 more a year, the cost "of a large pizza for the family."

In 2001, The School Board raised the price of school lunches by 10 cents in an effort to meet rising food and labor costs, schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen has said.

The 2001 increase came after four years of keeping school lunches at $1.30 for elementary schools and $1.55 for middle and high schools.

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